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Large bills decrease cancer survivors’ quality of life

Cancer survivors in the United States experience financial burdens that affect their health and quality of life.

Cancer survivors in the United States experience financial burdens that affect their health and quality of life.

Analysis of data from 2011 indicates that nearly 29% of patients have lasting physical and mental effects, with increased likelihood of bankruptcy, worries over medical bills and an inability to cover the cost of medical care.

Researchers reviewed data on 19.6 million cancer survivors: 21% were worried about paying large medical bills, 11.5% were unable to pay for visits and nearly 29% reported financial problems resulting from a cancer diagnosis or treatment. Nearly 8% had to borrow money or go into debt, while 1.5% declared themselves bankrupt.

Cancer survivors who face financial difficulties have a higher risk of depression and are more likely to worry about cancer recurrence compared with survivors with no financial problems. As financial problems increase, quality of life decreases and the risk of depression and psychological distress rises.

‘Policies and practices that minimise cancer patients’ out-of-pocket costs can improve survivors’ health-related quality of life and psychological health,’ concludes researcher Norman Carroll. He added that he hopes the results will be useful for oncologists, who could consider selecting treatments that are less expensive but similar in effectiveness.

Reference

Kale HP, Carroll N (2016) Self-reported financial burden of cancer care and its effect on physical and mental health-related quality of life among US cancer survivors. Cancer.

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